Getting to the Real Issue

In working my way through John, we see the theme of belief coming up over and over again. This is the reason for the writing of the book (see John 20:31). However people coming to understand and believe that Jesus was the long prophesied Messiah and God in flesh wasn’t a good thing for everyone. The Pharisees had a big problem with it. Why? See John 11:47-48

“What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

This is the real issue – this is why the Pharisees are coming up against Jesus so strongly. If too much of a stir was caused, and too many people came to believe in who Jesus was they would lose the temple, their semi-autonomous status with Rome, and perhaps closest to their hearts – their status and prestige of being the religious rulers of Israel. Obviously this totally misses the point that Jesus came so that their people might be reconciled to God – they didn’t care about that!

The parallels to our lives are clear – God requires that we surrender everything in our lives to his control, that our lives would now be joyfully used for his glory and not our own self-serving purposes. I can clearly recall resisting God many years ago when he was drawing me towards him, as there were things in my life that I was fearful I would lose by coming to Jesus and I didn’t want to give them up. This is common as I counsel with people who are stuck in sin and life isn’t going well, yet they will not surrender all of their lives to him they want to hold onto parts of it. That’s not how it works.

Jesus says this later in John 12:25-26 “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world (in other words, loves Jesus more than his earthly life) will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

To follow Jesus as his disciple means that everything in your life is his, what are you afraid of losing? Turns out, when you lose your life, you actually find it’s true meaning and purpose.

Forgiveness and Love

In Luke 7 we read the account of Jesus’ dinner at a Pharisee’s house – during the dinner,  a woman enters the house seeking Jesus.  Our text tells us that this woman was well known for being a “sinner.”  She is weeping and is at the feet of Jesus – broken by the knowledge of her own sin – now even more pronounced as she is in the presence of the sinless one – but she has come to the one who can heal, restore, forgive,  and make new.

We see the Pharisee’s reaction – almost as though this woman is worthless, no hope for her – judging her as beyond reach, he identity is permanently lost, not as holy as they are.

Jesus thinks otherwise.

He tells a story of someone who was owed 20 months wages vs 2 months wages – if the debt were cancelled, which one will show greater love to the one who cancelled the debt? The answer is the one who owed more.

The parallel is clear – this woman had great sin – she was well aware of the depth of her sin – it has broken her – and she is seeking forgiveness – because she has been forgiven much, she loves Jesus much.

How about us?  Do we understand the depth of our sin?  Do we grasp the magnitude of what we have been forgiven of?  This isn’t to say that we need to constantly dwell on our sin, because for those who are in Christ the sin is removed – but we should retain an awareness of how big of a deal that was.  Our massive debt was paid – how much more should we love God and others in light of that?  Or do we dare be like the Pharisee who completely didn’t see his own sin, and harshly judged this woman as beyond hope.

The cross is the obvious statement that we all sin and we all need a Savior and that NO ONE is beyond hope of restoration in Jesus.

This is received and lived out by faith – like the woman “whose faith has made her well” and we go in peace.  (Luke 7:50)